Tampa Bay Rays Game 126: Chris Archer’s Terrible Luck

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays offense missed some big chances on Wednesday night. In the sixth inning, they got the bases loaded and nobody out yet failed to score, and in both the fourth and fifth innings, they couldn’t push a run across despite having first and second with one out and then the bases loaded with two outs. At the end of the day, though, the offense did a decent enough job to win a different version of this game. Daniel Nava and Evan Longoria both drilled home runs, with Longoria especially coming alive as he also laced a double, while Grady Sizemore contributed an RBI single.

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There is no way that the Minnesota Twins should have  scored five runs in this game. That is admittedly less relevant than the fact that they did, but this was really ridiculous. In the fifth inning, Chris Archer not only allowed two groundball singles, but also forced two could-have-been inning-ending double plays. We can cut Asdrubal Cabrera some slack for initially failing to get a grip on the ball after making a nice play ranging to his left but still getting the force at second base. However, what do we make of what Logan Forsythe did? He came off the second base bag well before Longoria’s throw got to him, early enough that even the neighborhood play couldn’t help him. Two outs turned into none and the Twins’ first run crossed the play to tie the game at 1.

Archer (in the sixth) and Brandon Gomes (in the eighth) each gave up solo home runs, and we can’t argue with giving the Twins those. In the seventh, though, they came up with two more runs that never should have gone on the board. They loaded the bases on a walk, one bunt single where Forsythe didn’t cover first in time, and another where Brian Dozier popped up his bunt only to watch it land just out of Archer’s reach. To top it all off, a little pop fly single by Joe Mauer brought home the first run of the frame before the second came on more legitimate contact for a sac fly.

We have fielding-independent statistics precisely for games like this. Archer looked much better than his 4 runs allowed on 9 hits, striking out 12 while walking 1. The Twins just got extremely lucky. Yes, the Rays lost, pulling them two games below .500. Yes, the defeat stings just as badly if not more so. But please don’t make any claim about Archer returning to inconsistency after his no-hitter or any nonsense like that. He pitched really well in this game only to watch some combination of bad defense and bad luck drag him down.

On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays will hope to salvage a game from the Minnesota Twins at 7:10 PM as Drew Smyly heads to the mound against Tommy Milone.

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